I've said many times that it's vital to find the cause of
your disease in order to treat it right. Unfortunately, doctors often
fail to find the cause of chronic fatigue and digestive problems.
My friend Margaret recently experienced this. She had been bloated
for years. She had tried a variety of healthy diets, took enzymes and
probiotics, and had every diagnostic test her doctor could think of
including one for ovarian cancer (bloating is a common symptom for this
disease). All tests came back negative.
She had also taken the test that should have revealed the cause of
her discomfort. It didn't, because most labs that test for this
condition miss identifying the problem. And the majority of doctors who
recommend this test assume that the labs they're using are
accurate. Well, I'm here to tell you they're not. I've
seen it over and over again. The right labs can uncover the hidden
problems that other labs miss.
Margaret was able to find the source of her discomfort because I
insisted she get re-tested with a different lab. Why was I so adamant?
Because her symptoms and lifestyle pointed to one of the most
difficult-to-diagnose problems: parasites. And parasites contribute to
the inflammation and immune problems that are at the core of many
diseases, including digestive problems, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid
arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease. If you have an
overgrowth of parasites, it can easily compromise your health.
Parasites cause inflammation by irritating tissues in the small
intestines where nutrients are absorbed. If you have any unresolved
inflammatory problem (cancer, diabetes, and any condition that ends in
"itis"), I urge you to check for parasites and their resulting
inflammation--with a lab that's likely to find them.
I first talked about parasites more than six years ago. Since then
I've seen that a lot of people who insist they don't have
parasites do have them. They also have other inflammatory problems. Most
labs are just not finding them.
There are several reasons for this. Some parasites and their eggs
hide in the folds of the small intestines too high up to dislodge
easily. And some stick so well to the intestinal lining that a single
random stool sample test --the most common test for parasites--will miss
them. It's natural to prefer taking a test that requires only a
single stool sample. But this test may not find your parasites.
Why get tested if you feel fine?
Parasites are everywhere. They're in our water--especially
well water and water in foreign countries. They're on our pets. And
they're in our food supply, as you know from hearing about E. coli
contamination and salmonella on fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats.
Tapeworms are common in countries where they eat a lot of pork. If
you've traveled outside the U.S., especially to Mexico, South
America, or Asia, you're at a high risk for a parasite overgrowth
or the presence of tapeworm, a parasite found in swine feces. Most labs
don't routinely test for worms.
So, the question isn't whether or not you have parasites.
It's whether or not you have too many of the harmful kinds. And
whether or not you have increased inflammation both from parasites and
from your diet.
Finding accurate information
When I began researching the subject of parasites and labs, I
turned to one of the country's experts, my colleague Ann Louise
Gittleman, PhD, CNS. She began her career in nutrition by studying with
some of the world's top experts. During that time, understanding
and eradicating parasites became her passion.
Ann Louise has written two of the best books I've ever read on
parasites: Guess What Came To Dinner? (Avery, 2001) and The Gut Flush
Plan (Avery, 2008). Together, they are invaluable in understanding
parasites and how to best detect and eliminate them. You can get her
books online or from Uni Key Health Systems (800-888-4353). Mention this
newsletter for a 15% discount.
Finding the right lab
There are more than 500 different species of bacteria that live in
your intestines. This doesn't include various kinds of fungi,
worms, and other critters. Not all of them are harmful, but a number of
them are. So it's good to check for them periodically.
No lab can identify all types of parasites. Sometimes the lab can
find them in a single stool sample, while you may need two or three
samples to find others.
Sometimes it's easiest to find parasites through saliva tests.
I don't mean that there are parasites in your saliva. But saliva
tests can detect antibodies to parasites as well as markers of
inflammation caused by various worms, such as those found in kitty
litter. Saliva tests can also identify food sensitivities to gluten
(wheat, barley, and rye), milk, eggs, and soy that increase inflammation
in the digestive tract. Identifying various causes of inflammation gives
you a huge advantage. It helps you know which remedies to take and which
dietary changes to make.
Ann Louise and I chose the same lab based on price, testing
methods, the ability to find multiple types of parasites, and the
inclusion of a food sensitivity test that gives additional vital
information. We both prefer the expanded GI Health Panel from
Diagnos-Techs (GI-02). It consists of several stool and saliva samples
taken on different days.
Why I like this test best
One of the biggest problems with parasites is that they cause
inflammation, which causes increased permeability in the intestinal
lining. This allows toxins and tiny food molecules to leak through,
contributing to inflammatory problems throughout your body. Eventually,
it can lead to autoimmune diseases.
The expanded GI Health Panel test finds and identifies the
parasites that cause inflammation. But it does much more. It also tests
for four common foods that may be causing additional inflammation.
Unless and until you treat this inflammation with dietary changes, you
will never get completely well.
Some labs have you purge before collecting stool samples. Besides
being harsh and traumatic, a purge will burst many parasites. This means
the lab can't see them under a microscope. At best, using a
microscope detects only some parasites.
The GI-O2 panel can cost anywhere from $265 to $325 or more,
depending on whether or not your doctor charges you for a visit or gives
you a personalized report and treatment suggestions. Medicare, and some
other insurance companies, often reimburse for this test. Talk with your
doctor about this.
How to order a GI-02 test
There are two ways to order this test: through a doctor who works
with DiagnosTechs, or through Uni Key, a company that handles all of Ann
Louise's books and anti-parasite herbal formulas.
To find a doctor in your area who uses Diagnos-Techs' tests,
go to www.diagnostechs.com and click on "Provider Directory"
to search for someone near you. Or call them at 800-878-3787. You can
also ask them for a patient packet that you can take to your doctor who
can then set up an account and order your test kit.
In addition, your doctor can prescribe Alinia or another
anti-parasitic prescription drug for the first stage of your treatment.
Herbs and dietary changes take longer to treat and can eliminate more
parasites and their eggs. I find this combination works best in people
with high levels of worms and other parasites.
You may just want to contact Uni Key (800-888-4353) to save you the
expense of a doctor's visit. You will receive all of your results
with specific recommendations in an individualized letter from Ann
Louise's office for natural, non-toxic, non-invasive formulas. Uni
Key can provide you with a kit for the GI-02, as well as the insurance
codes you'll need for possible reimbursement.
Be sure to follow-up with a re-test after four months. Many people
feel just fine and still have parasites that can lead to future health
problems. Don't assume that because you feel good that your
parasites are under control.
So begin your journey today to find and eradicate parasites. Just
know that if you get rid of parasites and still feel terrible, it's
not the lab's fault. You may have missed an important step:
inflammation from foods. I'll talk about this in detail next month.